Let's start straight with the firm quote I saw recently:
In the previous two blogs, we talked first about what you should know about your audience and secondly about how to understand your audience. But let me give you a third piece of advice on this topic.
Let me introduce you to the "know your audience" bottom-up approach:
1. Winning by hunch - Why should they trust you?
There are better things to do for your audience, so your audience will likely skim read.
2. Winning by heart - Why should they care about you?
Getting your audience hooked is your goal. But remember, they will always have a cynic voice inside them.
3. Winning by head - Does it sound right?
The audience you are writing to is ignorant, so you must create meaning for your audience.
To persuade your audience, you must approach your copywriting in bottom-up order. There is no other way; that's a persuasion principle! (learn how in our e-book)
Write to let them skim! Why?
We have a tendency to think that our target audience is logical, sensible, and pragmatic. We have a tendency to believe that our audience has the time and is always in the mood to read our text. We place a higher value on our own time than on our audience's time. We all have all these assumptions ...
What's more intriguing is that we don't always make the correct assumptions. The opposite is the case.
Remember that our audience is uninformed; they usually have no prior knowledge of you or your organization. Nailing their tongue to the table appeals to them more than reading a recruiter's email or job description. They want your message's information to be as easily accessible as possible. They're curious about the meaning of your words. There are many things that people would rather do than reading, don't you agree? Your audience has a skeptical voice in their thoughts that will doubt every word of your message. They will interpret all of the words based on their own biases and experiences.
In her book Decoding the New Consumer Mind, Kit Yarrow claims that the pervasiveness of digital technology has changed our lives. She claims that we prefer to skim and scan rather than read in the new digital environment. A constant stream of information bombards and interrupts us. We've been socialized to expect things to happen quickly. We're becoming more and more addicted to stimulus and speed. Anything that needs patience is becoming increasingly intolerable to us.
Subconsciously, readers will scan your material for clues as to what it's about, whether it's secure, and whether or not they can trust you when they get there. They will always, always, always skim-scan before reading if the results are positive. So, let me tell you what we learned about eye-scanning from the UX field at wearebridge.io.
We, people, are significantly more prone to scan rather than read digital content. We glance at words, phrases, titles, and sections of pages in an irregular, out-of-order pattern. Rather than focusing on a whole paragraph or line of text, we focus on a few words. As a result, we are unlikely to read the content in its whole or in sequence.
You may think it's lazy, but UX research and eye-tracking data revealed that it's really an intelligent information-seeking strategy that helps people avoid information overload. We may believe that scanning individuals is random and seems chaotic, but it is more than simply a series of fixations.
So, how do you make it simple to scan?
Breaking up material into paragraphs, use white space, and use labeling parts with clear, prominent headers and subheadings so that readers can browse and discover just what they're looking for
In the layout of our text and in subheadings and links, we use "front-loading" to assist readers in absorbing the message quickly while scrolling. Use number of 2 (first two-paragraph, two sentences, and two words for most engaging content)
To help the eye concentrate on the most relevant information, use formatting methods such as bulleted lists, tables, and highlighting bold text.
To make the copy straightforward, use plain language.
People don't go to your professional website or check your email solely to appreciate what you've accomplished. They go there or open it because they need it, usually information. They receive much of their knowledge from reading text. Images and videos may be instrumental in meeting information demands, but written words are still the most common mode of communication.
However, just writing your message is insufficient. Understanding how people read content online is critical for informing and persuading them adequately. Why?
Reading is the most popular internet activity.
People try to read as little as they can.
People don't read linearly; instead, they make quick decisions on which parts of the text to read, which parts to skim, and other parts to totally ignore.
The amount of time a person is willing to devote to reading is determined by four things:
Motivational level: What significance does this information have for the reader?
Type of task: If the reader is looking to select a specific fact, exploring for fresh or fascinating material, or studying a subject, she may be more tempted to scan for many aspects. If she requires a specific password to a question, she may be more inclined to scan for several criteria.
Degree of concentration: How concentrated is the user on the current task? Focus is linked to the present work and how she motivates herself and her mood.
Personal characteristic; Some people are predisposed to scanning and tend to scan even during research tasks where they are highly motivated. They are very detail-oriented in their approach to reading online and reading content thoroughly. The situation they solved the reader's motivation and the task had a more significant impact on scanning behavior, but these individual characteristics also played a role.
We now recognize the importance of scanning as a strategic tool. Your message, content, and writing must all be designed to be scannable! People glance at particular parts of the text and ignore others for a reason. Don't expect that readers will immediately begin reading the copy after they open the page.